Smith Wins Lima Thriller

Larry Lawrence | June 27, 2009

Bryan Smith broke through to win Lima for the first time, a track close enough to his Flushing, Michigan home that he considers his home national. For the second straight year Lima came down to the last lap. This time the race was decided in a dramatic third-turn duel between Smith, on the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson and fellow Michigander Jared Mees, riding the Blue Springs/Screamin’ Eagle Harley. In the end it was Smith taking the victory over Mees by a bike length. Last week’s winner Sammy Halbert followed up his victorious Bulls Gap outing with a solid third at Lima.

On the final lap Smith worked his way up to challenge Mees, who dominated early. The two went side by side down the back straight into turn three. Neither wanted to let off. The result was hard contact between the friendly rivals. Mees was on the inside, but his momentum carried him too wide and Smith was able to regroup and make the pass and just hold off Mees at the flag.

Halbert worked his way to third and then ran a lonely race to the finish, about two-and-a-half seconds behind the leading duo.

“I finally won Lima,” said a jubilant Smith, who was DQ’d from victory at the Springfield Mile in May. “I’ve been trying to wi this race for a long time. I have a lot of friends and family from Michigan who come down here, so it’s like winning in front of the home crowd.

“It was a little more than rubbing with Jared on that last lap. Fortunatley I didn’t go down and I looked back and gave him a little wave when I crossed the line just to let him know I won it without banging into him.

While Mees missed out on the victory, he took over the AMA Grand National points lead for the first time in nearly two years. Mees now leads Halbert and Chris Carr by nine points. Kenny Coolbeth had an off night at Lima, finishing 15th and dropping from first to fourth in the standings.

It was an all-Michigan night at Lima. Stephen Vanderkuur became the fifth winner of the Pro Singles class. Vanderkuur worked his way up from a poor start on his Honda Oils/TCR/Woody Kyle Honda and took over the lead from Zach Palmer with three laps to go. Vanderkuur pulled away to a 1.4-second victory over Palmer. James Rispoli took third. Brad Baker was eight, good enough to maintain the series lead.

The series now takes a month off before returning to Hagerstown, Md., on July 25.

Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor

In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.